By Mike Patrick, Jr., M.D.
Some things are best watched on TV.
Sure, attending the event sounds like a good idea. But after wrestling your way into a parking space, missing the opening because of said wrestling, watching from seats with a bad view, missing close-up shots and instant replays, realizing you can't understand a word the announcer says, waiting thirty minutes in a concession line, waiting another thirty minutes in a potty line, and finally wrestling your way out of the parking lot, you find yourself wishing you had simply watched from the comfort of your couch.
On the other hand, there are events worth the hassle. For my daughter and me, Ohio State football games are such an event. Experience has taught us to minimize the hassle. We leave home three hours before kick-off. We park in a remote lot with shuttle service, ensuring an easy entrance and a quick escape. We go potty and eat our meal before the bulk of the crowd arrives and we settle into our seats early, content to watch the teams warm-up. It works out great, and we steal a little father-daughter quality time to boot.
Throw me into a different overwhelming situation, like a PGA tourney or NASCAR race or Beach Boys reunion concert, and I'm back to favoring the couch. For me, those events simply aren't worth the hassle.
A couple years ago, we were at the Magic Kingdom when ABC taped the annual Christmas Day Parade. Reflecting on the experience, I'll add it to my list of things better enjoyed from the living room.
First--and this is an important point to understand--Regis and Kelly aren't simply reporting on the parade as it passes by. It's a staged production. That's right. The whole thing is choreographed with first, second, and third takes and uncomfortably long pauses between parade sections.
Now don't get me wrong. I love the Christmas Day Parade as presented on ABC. The package deal is great. I'm just saying don't get too excited about watching it live if a future trip finds you at the Magic Kingdom in early December, that's all.
We foolishly thought we were lucky that day. Heading up a crowded Main Street USA, kids and grandparents in tow, a family vacated their curb position in front of the Emporium. It was just enough space for our group, and with the promise of seeing a celebrity or two in the parade, we took advantage of the opportunity. Unfortunately, the stars were mostly done passing, which probably explains our luck in finding a vacancy.
Still, we dutifully smiled and applauded as cameras rolled by our position. But it didn't take long to realize something was amiss. We watched the same float pass down the street in repeated soundless takes. Then the next float did the same thing. In a way, it was erie and something of a magic killer. After all, one expects the whole package with a Disney parade--the sights, the sounds, and even the smells mixing in perfect combination.
The crowd hung on (including our group) because the parade organizers promised us a "special" running as soon as the taping ended, which was supposed to be soon. It wasn't soon. Not even close. Now I know, it was sort of our fault for waiting so long. But look, once you've invested a couple hours and have been promised something magical if you wait just a little bit longer, you're apt to keep waiting. And wait we did.
And wait. And wait. And wait.
The taping outlasted the sun, Regis and Kelly were long gone, and our promised "special" running ran into unforseen technical difficulties. The crowd (again, including our group) hung onto repeated promises of, "It's almost ready to roll."
Unfortunately, when our "special" running finally came, we found it to be an ordinary presentation of Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Parade. The celebrities and special segments were missing, and looking in hindsight, I can honestly understand why. But sitting on a curb for five hours has its effect (and I'm talking more than just a sore bum). You come to expect a little something for your troubles. After all, we were the extras of the production and we were working pro bono. I'm sure at any other time, the "special" running would have been as magical as ever, but on that particular day, it simply wasn't worth the hassle.
Of course, I appreciate those who stayed for this year's taping. I suspect many had a system in place, kind of like the one my daughter and I have for those Ohio State football games. They know when to go, where to watch, and how long to stay. Their presence is important. After all, watching the procession traveling through a deserted Magic Kingdom on Christmas morning would be another sure-fire magic killer. It's just that I don't have to watch it live ever again. Now, if you offer me a comfortable couch and the finished ABC product, I'm there. And if you give me a full belly, a happy family, and a houseful of Christmas cheer, well then, I'm not only there, I'm loving it!
Dr Mike is a board-certified pediatrician and host of Pediacast: A Pediatric Podcast for Parents. You can read his blog, listen to the podcast, and sign up for his newsletter at www.pediacast.org.
COPYRIGHT 2006 MIKE PATRICK JR